Regardless of where you stand with Marvel and their cinematic takeover in the world of moviemaking, I think it’s fair to applaud Kevin Feige and co. for what they have managed to achieve over the years, is nothing short of remarkable. Constantly finding new ways of upping the stakes, creating fresh stories and introducing new characters whilst trying to maintain a cohesive timeline that seems to be willing to branch off in so many directions that you can find yourself getting lost in its everlasting ambition.
Spider-Man: No Way Home keeps the Marvel fan club hype train running into astronomical levels of anticipation, as it looks to further the success and scope of Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019).
After Quentin Beck AKA Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) reveals the identity of Spider-Man in the fallout of the events of Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019), Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland) is now struck with an identity crisis which is becoming an inconvenience to his private life. Wishing he can revert back to a time when his identity was in tact, Peter visits an old friend who can dabble with time and magic spells, hoping he can fix the mess Peter finds himself in.
During a spell cast by Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), that would erase all memory of Spider-Man’s true identity, the botched spell inadvertently opens a portal to the ‘multiverse’ which as Strange remarks, is ‘a concept in which we know freightingly little’. Soon Spider-Man and Strange are introduced to some unwanted visitors of Peter Parker’s past, only not this Peter Parker.
Jon Watts’ third entry into the MCU Spider-Man series feels like somewhat of a redemptive piece. After Sam Raimi’s final instalment back in 2007 was met with disappointing responses, and Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man franchise failed to even reach a trilogy. Fortunately Watts gets his shot at an official trilogy, and oh my does he take it.
Spider-Man: No Way Home feels like a movie of two halves. The first is this muddled, tonally shifting continuation of Spidey’s story. Awkward humour which doesn’t always reach comedic appreciation, plenty of questionable character decisions (something which sadly bowls over into the second half also), and its undenying urge to set up a story that rides on nostalgic beats. The second half is a surprisingly heart-felt love letter to the beloved superhero, and perhaps offers the most comic book feel any live action adaptation has attempted to create over the years.
Tom Holland has proved he is fitting for the role of Peter Parker. Whether he exceeds your expectations beyond what Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield did with the character all those years ago, Holland picks up the mannerisms of his comic book counterpart perfectly. He has that quirky, nerdy, awkward personality to encapsulate the persona of Parker, but has the charisma and charm to carry out his duties as the web slinger. Holland has shown great dramatics in the franchise so far, but No Way Home really forces him to find a new level with his performance, and does so with delightful results.
It’s great to see Alfred Molina, Willem Dafoe and Jamie Foxx (amongst others) reprise their villainous roles, and for some it’s redemption and a second chance for them to do more with their roles. Not every villain is fleshed out fairly, allowing some to have more billing than others. Not everything (or everyone) reaches a satisfying conclusion, but those that do, and those moments that this film nails are some of the best we’ve seen in the MCU this far.
The issue with reviewing and discussing Spider-Man: No Way Home is that it is a spoiler minefield. One misstep and there’s an explosion of information that is intended to be kept under the radar. I urge you to steer away from spoilers and get to the cinema to watch a masterclass of a superhero film that is more than likely to fill you with joy, even if it perhaps doesn’t quite level up to the monumental hype.
Still not a perfect entry for the MCU, Spider-Man: No Way Home has issues regarding plot points, underwhelming special effects and its tendency to grasp onto its nostalgic roots a little too haphazardly. But when this film kicks off into an exciting second half, it’s impossible to not get caught up in its alluring little web. This Spider-Man is ‘amazing’, ‘spectacular’, ‘splendid’ but most importantly memorable, and I have a strong feeling it will be for some time.